Car design is quite difficult, by the looks of things. Just look at the grilles, wings and dashboard layouts we've seen rolling into showrooms of late. Fashion design also looks quite tricky, though - I mean florals, for spring? Groundbreaking.
One such brand that may have received the brunt of automotive design criticism recently is BMW. Yes, we've seen your comments. Well, to fix that, Mini has brought in fashion extraordinaire Paul Smith - you know, of stripey fame - to add his take of 'sustainable design' in the creation of the Mini Strip. And no, the strip doesn't refer to Paul's trademark stripes; it's about "stripping" back the car to the core essentials.
Apart from the fun of playing with a real-life configurator, Mr Smith has co-created the Strip with the theme of 'simplicity, transparency and sustainability', demonstrating inspirational ideas for a sustainable and environmentally friendly automotive design future.
At the centre of that is a 'minimalist' structure using raw materials, and the car is left in an 'unfinished state' with no paint, so factory grinding marks and screw holes are exposed to make it look edgy and cool. And to not use all that chemical-based paint, of course. The recycled-Perspex, panoramic roof shows off the parts in their raw form, giving it that well known "quick give it a lick of paint and no one will notice" effect.
Inside, it's even more eco-warrior, and by that we mean there's cork. Lots of cork. Chosen for its "pleasing firmness combined with a soft feel". There's no leather and no chrome, and any unnecessary trim pieces have been scrapped. Single-colour upholstery means easy recycling for the fabrics and the upcycled rubber floor mats are clearly "enjoying a second life."
There's nothing left on the centre console, either - just your smartphone to provide media connectivity and a couple of switches for the windows. Even the steering wheel has been stripped back to just the essential parts and buttons, although it has been covered in handlebar tape, to evoke a "true road bike style". Mr Smith likes cycling, too, apparently.
Gimmicks aside, it is good to see the industry looking at alternatives for future design. If we're having to give up V8s, it's pointless to keep killing off cows for the purpose of a comfy tushy. Sure, the actual design of it needs some refining - there's "less is more" and then there's just less - but hey, it's the future.
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